Sharing anonymized hospital data prevents violence

Combining information from hospitals and police can prevent violence and make communities safer, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal today.

The (WHO) has identified as a global public health issue. In 2008-9, police recorded over 900,000 violent incidents in England and Wales, yet a substantial proportion of which results in treatment by doctors is not known to the police.

Targeted police work prevents violence, but depends on knowledge of when and precisely where violence occurs. So a team led by Professor Jonathan Shepherd at Cardiff University set out to investigate whether using information about the precise location and times of injury, derived from injured patients, can prevent more violence than police effort alone.

They analysed the impact of the Cardiff Programme (CVPP), a data-sharing strategy for violence prevention implemented in Cardiff in 2001.

Anonymised data on precise violence location, time, days and weapons used, derived from patients treated for at hospital emergency departments, were shared over 51 months with police and local authority partners and used to target resources for violence prevention.

Results were compared with 14 similar cities in England and Wales without the intervention.

Information sharing and use of this information to target violence 'hot spots' was associated with a significant (42%) reduction in violence-related relative to the comparison cities. In Cardiff, rates fell from seven to five a month per 100,000 people compared with an increase from five to eight in comparison cities.

There was also a significant increase in minor assaults (those not resulting in injuries) recorded by the police, from 15 to 20 a month per 100,000 people in Cardiff compared with a decrease from 42 to 33 in comparison cities, suggesting that more accurate targeting led to faster and more frequent police intervention.

This data sharing model is currently being implemented in the UK (there is a coalition government commitment to information sharing by hospitals in England for violence prevention) and is advocated by WHO, say the authors.

"Our findings suggest that communities can achieve substantial reductions in the public health burden of violence through organised data driven partnerships between health, law enforcement agencies, and local government," they conclude.

Furthermore, it is likely that the main conclusions of this study are applicable outside the UK, they add.

In an accompanying editorial, Alexander Butchart from WHO, says he hopes the Cardiff model will be emulated by other cities in developing and developed countries. He concludes that, if subsequent studies also find the significant reductions in violence shown in Cardiff, "it would increase confidence in the value of this new tool to prevent violence."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fall in violence in UK, study finds

Apr 19, 2011

Injuries from assault requiring hospital treatment fell by more than 10 per cent last year, the University’s Violence and Society Research Group has found.

Recommended for you

Reduce your risk of falls

28 minutes ago

If you are over 65 and have had a fall before, researchers at the University of Sydney think you should balance on one leg to brush your teeth, bend your knees to pack the dishwasher and take the stairs more often.

Dirty water raising health risk in flooded Kashmir

2 hours ago

The floodwaters are finally receding in much of Kashmir, but health experts worry a crisis could be looming with countless bloated livestock floating across the waterlogged region and hundreds of thousands ...

Smoking rates on the rise in New York City

13 hours ago

For the first time in years, more than 1 million New Yorkers are smoking, marking a disturbing rise of tobacco use in the city that pioneered a number of anti-smoking initiatives that were emulated nationally.

User comments